I'm in Chicago, which outside of New York (once a New Yorker, always one), is my favorite U.S. city. I lived here for 22 years (more or less) and when I come here I feel totally at home. I do. Its that feeling that I know you know - you're in a city that you love so much that you miss it while you're in it.
The reason that I'm here was to do a webinar. Kind of amazing isn't it? I flew to Chicago to do a webinar for Sword Ciboodle, a Glasgow-based company that does something that they call "process-centric CRM." I'll explain in a minute.
Actually, I'm taking some literary license here because it also seemed to make some sense to meet with the U.S. based principals and some of the global principals who happen to be in the U.S. In the course of the trip, I found out a few things.
First, Sword Ciboodle is their actual name. Seriously. It is. I mean it. No, really.
Second, they were formerly the Scottish company Graham Technology and had a wide presence in Europe and made some serious appearances in the Middle East and Asia. They were acquired by The Sword Group after they had changed their name from Graham Technology to Ciboodle and thus Sword Ciboodle was...hatched.
They came to the U.S. in 2007 and landed some seriously large accounts and are expanding their footprint.
I really liked this band of intrepid American and European temporary ex-pats. They're a good group of people - interesting and enjoyable, fun...a pleasure to hang out with and be around professionally too.
That said, it doesn't mean that I was predisposed to like or dislike their product particularly but I took a good look at it and was duly impressed with its completeness and how tightly woven (a good thing) it was. Apparently Forrester was equally impressed making them the leader in Process-Centric Customer Service Technology, beating out such stalwarts as Chordiant, Pegasystems, Amdocs and Consona. Impressive, n'est ce pas?
The concept of process-centric CRM being put forth by Sword Ciboodle is that operational excellence (meaning that the key processes work really well) leads to a highly satisfactory customer experience.
I get that.
Think about it this way. I'm a customer (which is hardly theoretical - I'm a male shopaholic - at least when it comes to Amazon and technology and books Kindle or real). I have to talk to your customer service department. I'm either irate or I need something done that is utilitarian that I couldn't do for myself or I have a question that simply needs to be answered. So I have certain expectations. If its not in the realm of "I want to explode" or "my head really hurts" it tends to be something that I want to solve quickly, without fuss. The delicate part for a company is that a. the information I need won't be available or b. the CSR - if its not self-service - will be a jerk about it or c. something routine won't go smoothly. The latter is where process-centric CRM comes in. It makes sure that the routine goes smoothly. In the case of the irate "help me before I hurt myself- and you" variety of customer, the processes related to both the routine and the workflow, triggers and alerts, and routing to the right representative become hugely important before the angry customer blows. Again, the operational excellence that this process centered model provides is valuable to the experience the customer has.
Its not an engagement model. Be clear there. It takes the baseline customer experience and if possible, does what it can to guarantee that it stays north of bad and at best north of neutral. It doesn't substitute for the use of social tools. It doesn't compete with, say Helpstream, which has a considerably more Customer Service 2.0 footprint than Sword Ciboodle. But it does support a very, very good model for companies that deal in high volume transactions or utilitarian interactions very well - lending itself to large retail operations, public sector, health services, financial services, utilities etc. For example, in health, you're looking for things to be done well in a very edgy situation. Little things that can go wrong when it comes to service are magnified when it comes to handling health issues or even just inquiries related to health. Anxiety works deep in that domain.
I saw a presentation and a demo of what they can do. I have to admit, it took the demo to get me to understand the "outside in" value for the customer as opposed to the "inside out" value for the company - which I saw right away.
I get it.
Here's what it looks like.
What Sword Ciboodle Does
Okay, so is that an endorsement from me? No, not yet. I always need to speak with customers and see it live before I do that. I have a backlog of about 10 companies I need to do that with. The process is preliminary interest on my part and then I talk to the customers. THEN if that passes the test (about 4 of 10), I'm willing to love it. Even so, Ciboodle-the-App (as opposed to Jabba-the-Hud) seems to be tight and comprehensive. It covers help desks and contact centers among other things. Judging from their extensive global client list it scales nicely. It has measurable ROI.
It sounds good - even with that name.
Say it ten times "Sword Ciboodle" and then go take a look at process-centric CRM.
To help you with that I did an interview with their 3 principals currently in the U.S. That would be Paul White, CEO of the Americas, Ted Hartley, COO of the Americas and Steven Thurlow, Global CTO. In the interests of disclosure, I've known Ted for years. He is a great guy and a very savvy business dude.
Look up top of this post for the interview.